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Polluted Water, Polluted Culture (one more consequence from contraception)
CERC ^ | October 4, 2009 | MATTHEW HANLEY

Posted on 10/04/2009 2:29:05 PM PDT by NYer

Estrogen – from artificial contraception pills, consumed daily by tens of millions of women – is making its way through sewage treatment plants and severely pollutes our waterways with chilling consequences.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reacted to an August report that emissions from coal-fired power plants have led to widespread mercury pollution in our rivers and streams by saying: "this science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation's waterways, and protect the public from potential health dangers." Who, after all, wants toxic levels of mercury in our rivers?

But mercury is not all there is in the water. Estrogen -- from artificial contraception pills, consumed daily by tens of millions of women -- makes its way through sewage treatment plants and severely pollutes our waterways. Classified in the United Kingdom as a pollutant, "the pill" has led -- according even to the Austrian chemist who helped invent it -- to "demographic catastrophe". The oversaturation of estrogen in the environment likely contributes to male infertility, which has been rising in recent years; there is also the impact it has on aquatic life.

To take one recent example, University of Colorado scientists found that of the 123 fish they had caught at a nearby mountain stream for research purposes, "101 were female, 12 were male and 10 were strange ‘intersex' fish with male and female features." The director of the Colorado Genetic Engineering Action Network, Dave Georgis, reacted to these freaky findings by saying: "Nobody is to blame for this, and I don't have a solution."

That, no doubt, would be above his pay grade.

It does not take much effort to imagine a Dictator behind the scenes (Relativism, as Benedict XVI famously suggested), ordering him to dissemble like that. To speak the truth -- even only about the science of estrogen overload, as Salazar did with respect to mercury -- would be an act of gross insubordination. The inability to say what is manifestly so or not so, Romano Guardini (a mentor to Benedict) perceptively wrote nearly fifty years ago, is "the most hideous manifestation of tyranny."

You can get away with such evasions scot-free, since the Zeitgeist cannot be bothered to target this source of contamination, even though that means making peace with harming women and the environment. How quickly its professed faith in strictly disinterested science is exposed as mere pretense, when the science scrutinizes its interests.

Is there any better illustration of the connectedness between human and natural ecology, each of which Benedict XVI stresses (in Caritas in Veritate) can only be protected by firm commitment to moral truth? Artificial contraception's modus operandi is to thwart nature -- it ruptures the intimate ("ecological") bond between a man, a woman and future generations, splinters entire societies, and contaminates the environment.

Nature can only brook so much dissent.

Connecting the dots is a straightforward but thankless task. Anyone who is aware of ever having preferred darkness to light knows that truth can irritate before it illuminates. Indicting the tools of consequence-free sex as the culprit in environmental degradation, much less personal or social disintegration, is to court rage.

In this case, 'roid rage, since oral contraceptives are steroids (yes, think Mark McGwire), though few know it -- and carcinogenic ones at that. To "work," they must first interfere with the liver, which normally breaks down ingested substances; they are specifically designed not to biodegrade -- which helps explain estrogen's presence in the environment, and why they are implicated not only in breast cancer, but also liver cancer.

Plato timelessly remarked that "men prefer themselves to the truth." Overcoming the all-too-human aversion to uncomfortable truth costs parts of ourselves dearly -- which is why grappling with truth is a noble act.

The inability to say what is manifestly so or not so, Romano Guardini (a mentor to Benedict) perceptively wrote nearly fifty years ago, is "the most hideous manifestation of tyranny."

Without a willingness to acknowledge and "love what is true," Benedict suggests, there can be "no real social conscience or responsibility," however much well meaning environmentalists earnestly cultivate and aggressively retail those goods. (A woman may believe that by bringing her own reusable grocery bag to Whole Foods in one hand she helps save the planet -- but only if she does not let herself know that the contraceptive pill she pops with the other hand is messing with the planet's water supply). Quite the contrary: without truth, "social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power."

This striking passage calls to mind not so much Plato and the human penchant to struggle with truth, but Nietzsche and the "will to power"; it evokes the cold, self-centered nihilism which lends a brutish quality to our culture.

The nihilistic assertion of the self -- which lashes out at truth in its quest for power (even over the human body) -- is a defining characteristic of "modern liberalism," which Cardinal Pell of Sydney observes "has strong totalitarian tendencies." It is a toxic cultural contaminant that shrinks hearts and minds, restricts happiness, and produces "lovelessness, fear, and despair." It helps foment what Archbishop Dolan of New York called "the real vocation crisis": fewer and fewer people getting married, later and later in life.

It, like truth, also imposes costs -- but in diametrically opposed ways.

The nihilistic "hook-up" culture dishes out debilitating and drug resistant emotional wounds that, though less quantifiable, propel many young and not so young people to "lead lives of quiet desperation" -- as Thoreau put it.

But the Truth came to set us free, to heal and reconcile, to restore equilibrium, so that we do not take our quiet desperation "to the grave," as Thoreau imagined most men do, but rather might find love and happiness in this world and the next.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: birthcontrol; catholic; contraception; contraceptives; environment; estrogen; genetics; males; pollution; thepill
Matthew Hanley, M.P.H., was an HIV/AIDS technical advisor for Catholic Relief Services from 2001 to 2008. He is the author of the forthcoming book Avoiding Risk, Affirming Love: What the West Can Learn from Africa, to be published by The National Catholic Bioethics Center in 2009.
1 posted on 10/04/2009 2:29:07 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
Catholic Ping
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2 posted on 10/04/2009 2:29:47 PM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
Yawn... we've been filling our water and food with chemicals and hormones for 100 years and now that contraceptives made it in the catholic church suddenly cares?

Please.

3 posted on 10/04/2009 2:35:55 PM PDT by ketsu (It’s not a campaign. It’s a taxpayer-funded farewell tour.)
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To: NYer
To take one recent example, University of Colorado scientists found that of the 123 fish they had caught at a nearby mountain stream for research purposes, "101 were female, 12 were male and 10 were strange ‘intersex' fish with male and female features"

What reason do we have to think that this situation is not perfectly normal? Or even supposing it's not, why would we assume that estrogen from the pill is to blame? This is anecdotal statistics at its absolute worst. Lately it seems it's been the global warmist scaremongerers who have been using "evidence" of this sort - but clearly they're not the only ones who can play that game.

4 posted on 10/04/2009 2:46:34 PM PDT by eclecticEel (The Most High rules in the kingdom of men ... and sets over it the basest of men.)
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To: ketsu

” 123 fish they had caught at a nearby mountain stream for research purposes,”

One question about the fishy findings: How is estrogen finding it’s way into “mountain streams?” Seems more likely that, if there is a culprit, it would either be natural contamination, or runoff from old mining operations. I don’t think that sewage plants are piping their effluents up into the mountains.


5 posted on 10/04/2009 2:54:30 PM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra; ketsu; NYer
How is estrogen finding it’s way into “mountain streams?” Seems more likely that, if there is a culprit, it would either be natural contamination, or runoff from old mining operations. I don’t think that sewage plants are piping their effluents up into the mountains.

It runs uphill towards research grant money.

6 posted on 10/04/2009 3:09:30 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative (I wonder why Solomon Ortiz (TX-27) likes Muammar Gadaffi so much?)
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To: ketsu
now that contraceptives made it in the catholic church suddenly cares?

Not sure I am following your train of thought here. The Catholic Church does not endorse the use of contraceptives (a/k/a abortifacients).

7 posted on 10/04/2009 3:18:07 PM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
How is estrogen finding it’s way into “mountain streams?"

Don't know the details in this case, but I do know that fish have no trouble swimming upstream from other places as part of their reproductive cycle.

8 posted on 10/04/2009 3:26:28 PM PDT by SamuraiScot
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To: eclecticEel

“Or even supposing it’s not, why would we assume that estrogen from the pill is to blame? “

Because they can measure the levels of estrogen in the water and they are high enough to be absorbed by animals and humans.

This is, most likely, why young girls are entering puberty so much earlier than they did several decades ago.

This is not just scaremongering, this is actually a valid issue.


9 posted on 10/04/2009 3:56:39 PM PDT by webstersII
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To: NYer

I say this all the time when the talk of pollution or vegetarians or such comes up, usually to blank stares, because they don’t care about the water (just buy bottled water, a friend suggested - lol) or they don’t get it. It’s a bell we can’t unring.


10 posted on 10/04/2009 4:08:42 PM PDT by fortunecookie (Please pray for Anna, age 7, who waits for a new kidney.)
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To: NYer; ketsu
now that contraceptives made it in the catholic church suddenly cares?

Not sure I am following your train of thought here. The Catholic Church does not endorse the use of contraceptives (a/k/a abortifacients).

The Catholic Church doesn't 'suddenly' care about pollution now, because contraceptives have found their way into the water suppoly. The Catholic church (and other churches) have long had a history of caring about pollution in our water and soil and food, prior to the issue of contraceptives being found to be yet another pollutant.

11 posted on 10/04/2009 4:12:49 PM PDT by fortunecookie (Please pray for Anna, age 7, who waits for a new kidney.)
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To: NYer

Estrogen in water, huh. So THAT explains why there are so many liberal men.


12 posted on 10/04/2009 4:52:44 PM PDT by Signalman
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To: Bobkk47

I think you are right! Purer water closer to the mountains, hence the pick-up drivers and mountain men are still safe. Downstream in big cities, the estrogen is bad and girlie-boys thrive.


13 posted on 10/04/2009 6:39:15 PM PDT by bboop (Tar and feathers -- good back then, good now)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

Notice the attempt to blame this on environmental pollutants, and ignore the obvious source (the pill):

Estrogen in Waterways Worse Than Thought

Risk greater for disease, death and intersex traits
June 4, 2009

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=estrogen-in-waterways

By Allison Winter

Exposure to estrogen puts fish at greater risk of disease and premature death, according to a new federal study.

The U.S. Geological Survey study showed that estrogen exposure reduces a fish’s ability to produce proteins that help it ward off disease and pointed to a possible link between the occurrence of intersex fish and recent fish kills in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

The report, published in the current issue of Fish & Shellfish Immunology, adds to a growing body of research pointing to problems with estrogen in the nation’s waterways.

Other research has found evidence of estrogen exposure in freshwater and some marine fish populations. In a previous report, USGS scientists found widespread occurrences of fish in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers with “intersex” characteristics — male fish carrying immature female egg cells in their testes. Other scientists observed similar problems in fish in Southern California and in labs in Canada and the United States.

Scientists have not targeted the source of estrogen, but many suspect it stems from certain pollutants and drugs in waterways.

For the new research, USGS scientists injected largemouth bass with estrogen in laboratory tests. They discovered that the fish produced lower levels of hepcidins, proteins that regulate iron and may be a first line of defense against disease-causing bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Largemouth bass usually produce two kinds of these sickness-shielding proteins. After being exposed to estrogen, they reduced production of one type of the protein, and exposure to estrogen and bacteria completely blocked the production of the other. The researchers say this could explain why the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers seem to have the co-occurence of intersex fish, fish lesions and fish kills.

“The fact that estrogen blocked production of hepcidins in fish exposed to bacteria gives more weight to the theory that estrogen or estrogen-mimicking chemicals could be making fish more susceptible to diseases,” said Laura Robertson, who led the research.

Male fish with the capability to develop immature eggs inside their sex organs were first found in a West Virginia stream in 2003, raising fears that there were endocrine disruptors in the water that scientists were not finding in repeated water tests.

In a 2006 study, the USGS scientists found widespread endocrine disruption among smallmouth and largemouth bass in the Potomac River and its tributaries across Maryland and Virginia. Tests on smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah River in Virginia and in the Monocacy River in Maryland — both of which feed the Potomac — concluded that more than 80 percent of all the male bass were growing eggs.

Environmental groups have asked U.S. EPA to ban chemicals used in many household detergents that are linked to endocrine disruption and gender changes in fish. One chemical, nonylphenol, imitates estrogen. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups want EPA to use a provision of the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate individual substances.


14 posted on 10/05/2009 10:45:48 AM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp
I questioned only the results on the fish from a “Mountain stream.” I have no doubt that the Potomac is polluted! I think the fish in the “mountain stream” are being effected by something other than estrogen. Unless it's raining and snowing estrogen in the mountains! I am the operator of a public water supply. 28 years. Luckily, our water comes from deep wells, and no pharms have shown up yet, and are rather unlikely to do so. However systems supplied by surface water are at risk. With all the females who take estrogen, and pee, I think it's likely that estrogen will be the top offender, by far. Other pharms that show up are in virtually incalculably tiny amounts.
15 posted on 10/05/2009 3:10:18 PM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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